Day 3 of my mini series on amputee awareness week and educating you in the usual society pitfalls we have to deal with on a daily basis.
3) Wheelchair access
Did you know, a wheelchair access ramp is legally not supposed to be more than 12 degrees incline, and more preferably 8 degrees? Why? Have you ever tried to push yourself up a steep slope in a wheelchair only using your arms?!
Although this is a mandated law for new buildings in NZ, there is nothing in law that forces older buildings to make their access more suitable and up to date.
This means that when I became disabled I had to change my dentist because they only had a steep staircase entrance, no lift access. How can that possibly be, you ask? Well yep this is something I deal with very regularly.
Camp sites: there are NO campsites in Wanaka that are accessible in a wheelchair. And that is only one town I’m using as an example. Many advertise their buildings as wheelchair accessible.. but what that should mean in reality is:
♿️ wider pathways to accommodate a wheelchair
♿️ ramp access to all amenities
♿️ a suitably equipped wheelchair accessible disabled toilet and shower, with grab rails and a shower seat.
♿️lowered benchtops in shared kitchens
♿️ widened doorways
♿️ disabled parking close to the accommodation.
♿️wheelchair accessible light switches and windows.
Camping is only one example. Many businesses in the older buildings in Invercargill have no lift access. I was meant to be at a business meeting, earlier this year while I was still waiting for a prosthetic. The only way they could get me in (upstairs) would have been to carry me – and my wheelchair- up the stairs. 😱 Needless to say I didn’t go.
Kerbs. A lot of them locally to me (and the roadside) are old, uneven and potholes. This creates a tip risk for a wheelchair.
Shops are supposed to have a wheelchair accessible till. Quite often they don’t, and if they do it isn’t always open. I know this is definitely the case in my local supermarket.
There’s no point in stating that your business is wheelchair accessible if all you’re doing is paying lip service.